If you're on a new year health drive, this salad will show healthy food doesn't have to be boring!

Quinoa is a grain-like crop native to the Andes, and was held to be sacred by the Incas, who called it the 'mother of grains'

EXCLUSIVE: Mountain Lodges of Peru's Quinoa Salad

We love this light and healthy meal from the gourmet kitchen at Mountain Lodges of Peru, the luxury alternative to the classic Inca Trail. Quinoa is a grain-like crop native to the Andes, and was held to be sacred by the Incas, who called it chisaya mama or 'mother of grains'. You too may grow to hold it in high esteem: it's fantastically good for you and an excellent source of protein, fibre, magnesium and iron. In fact, it's such a complete foodstuff that it's being considered by NASA as possible nutrition for astronauts on long space missions.

Fabulous food is just one of the comforts of the Mountain Lodges experience: instead of camping as you trek along the well-trodden steps of Inca Trail, you can reach Machu Picchu through the back door, hiking from lodge to lodge through the scenic mountainside and even taking the opportunity to unwind from a hard day's walking with a relaxing soak in a Jacuzzi! Here's their signature quinoa dish to give a taste of the experience...

Ingredients (to serve 4):
400g quinoa
1 large tomato
50g cottage cheese
1 red bell pepper
¼ cucumber
50g pecans
50g green olives (deseeded)
50g red onion
1 bunch coriander, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsps olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

1. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and add the quinoa*, turning the heat down to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes then drain the quinoa through a fine mesh strainer. Set aside to cool.
2. Chop the following ingredients into small cubes of a similar size: tomato, red bell pepper, cucumber, pecans, green olives, red onion and cottage cheese. Mix all the chopped ingredients, including the coriander, into the quinoa evenly.
3. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well again. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
4. Serve cold, garnishing with herbs and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.

*Note that if you buy unprocessed quinoa, you will first need to soak it for 30 minutes in cold water (or 5 minutes in hot water if you're in a rush), then wash and drain it several times until it no longer makes the water cloudy when rinsed.

Variation: For a summer twist, add either mango or apple in very small cubes.


Head Chef Vanessa Gazzani M.
Mountain Lodges of Peru



A really tasty salad and worth all the chopping! I'd suggest swapping the cottage cheese for goats cheese to add yet another flavour...

Sarah over a year ago

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